World Cup Group F Preview

Eden Hazard
(Getty Images)

World Cup 2022
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The four teams who make up Group F at the World Cup are Belgium, Canada, Croatia and Morocco. Each country plays one match against the other three between Nov. 23 and Dec. 1. The top two performing nations in the round robin will proceed to the knockout phase.

If you put faith in the Rankings from which the seeding for the World Cup was devised, Belgium will be the best European team in Qatar. Roberto Martinez’s side is second only to Brazil, and, as such, will be strongly favored to go deep into the competition. They reached the semifinals four years ago, so they have a last step to take.

Croatia did reach the final last time, though. However, while they were ranked 16th in the world when the draw was made, that still made them the weakest team in Pot 2.

Morocco is the third seed in Group F, and carried a ranking of 24th, which made them the fourth strongest side in Pot 3. It’s worth noting that the gap between themselves and Croatia shrank when the next rankings were revealed, so it could be a close battle.

Canada is the representative from Pot 4. As they are at their first World Cup since 1986, and only second ever, they won’t be worried about that. Outsiders they may be, but they topped CONCACAF qualifying.

CONTENTS

World Cup Group F Table, Fixtures & Odds

TeamPWDLGFGAGDPts
Croatia211041+34
Morocco211020+24
Belgium210112-13
Canada200215-40

Group F Match Schedule

DateMatchTime (ET)Stadium
Wed, Nov. 23Morocco vs. Croatia5 a.m.Al Bayt Stadium
Wed, Nov. 23Belgium vs. Canada2 p.m.Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Sun, Nov. 27Belgium vs. Morocco8 a.m.Al Thumama Stadium
Sun, Nov. 27Croatia vs. Canada11 a.m.Khalifa Int'l Stadium
Thur, Dec. 1Croatia vs. Belgium10 a.m.Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Thur, Dec. 1Canada vs. Morocco10 a.m.Al Thumama Stadium

The stand-out match at face value is Croatia vs. Belgium on Dec. 1. However, the same was said for the Belgians’ game with England at the last World Cup, and earlier results in the group ensured it was a dead rubber. The same could certainly occur here.

As such, the opening two fixtures on Nov. 23 are the most important. If Canada and Morocco are to reach the knockout phase, they will need good results against Belgium and Croatia, respectively.

World Cup Group F Odds

TeamGroup WinnerQualify From Group
Croatia-110-350
Morocco+210-1400
Belgium+275+125

Odds Provided by BetMGM - Subject to Change

This group and Group H have something interesting in common which cannot be said for any other section. The two outsider teams have identical odds to qualify for the Round of 16, with Canada and Morocco both priced at +250 by BetMGM.

This means they have roughly a 27 percent chance of finishing in the top two, according to the bookmakers. Considering they both had excellent qualifying campaigns, there could be value in selecting one of them.

Only five of the 32 teams in Qatar have a shorter price than Belgium (which is -1100) to get through, so there’s little chance of them failing to advance. While obviously not so strongly favored, Croatia at -190 is thought to have more chance of qualifying for the knockout phase than falling at this hurdle.

World Cup Group F Draw

Belgium

Belgium had an excellent tournament at the last World Cup. For the second time in their history, they reached the semifinals, only to come up short against eventual winners France. But they knocked out Brazil in the last eight and beat England in the playoff to finish third.

The Belgians were then beaten by the champions once again at Euro 2020, with Italy ending their interest in the quarterfinals. The talent in their squad is without question, but it’s fair to wonder if their best days are now behind them.

This is particularly true in defense. The former Tottenham pairing of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are both in their mid-thirties and are no longer playing in top European leagues.

In attack, Kevin De Bruyne had a customarily excellent campaign with Manchester City. However, Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea was a disaster, and Eden Hazard has struggled with injuries throughout his time with Real Madrid.

Belgium went unbeaten through qualifying and should breeze through Group F easily enough. They were also second seeds outright for the competition when the draw was made. 

Yet they are only seventh-favorites to win the World Cup, and that position feels right. This generation of players had their best chance four years ago, and this edition may be one too far for them.

Croatia

Much of what was written for Belgium also applies here. Croatia followed an excellent World Cup in 2018 with a relatively disappointing European Championship three years later and rely upon veterans as their star men.

Three Croatians led them in scoring with three goals in qualifying. Of those that did, Luka Modric will be 37 when the festivities in Qatar kick off, while Ivan Perisic is 33-years-old. Will the World Cup be one rodeo too far?

Of greater concern is their general lack of goals. The nine scored in qualifying by their top three goal getters was individually matched by Robert Lewandowski and bettered by Memphis Depay and Harry Kane. In their away games against the next-best three teams in their qualification group, Croatia scored just once.

This lack of firepower didn’t stop them from taking four points from France in the UEFA Nations League in June, though. They earned those points via a 1-0 win and 1-1 draw and only conceded four goals in their 10 qualifying games for Qatar.

Croatia will look to keep games tight and hope the likes of Modric can deliver a moment or two of magic. That will probably be enough to see off Canada and Morocco in Group F, but it’s hard to see them going too much further.

Morocco

Morocco is appearing at a second-successive World Cup for only the second time. The one instance where they got through the Group Stage occurred way back in 1986.

In Russia four years ago, the Moroccans picked up a single point. They lost 1-0 to both Iran and Portugal before holding Spain to a 2-2 draw.

What will hearten them this time around is that they head to the finals with the best qualification record they’ve ever posted. In the Group Stage, they won all six matches with a 20-1 goals record, then beat DR Congo 5-2 on aggregate in the playoff. A 3-0 friendly loss to the United States in June didn't help, though, particularly as their Group F rivals Canada topped the CONCACAF qualification league.

In terms of players to watch, Azzedine Ounahi and Tarik Tissodali each scored twice in the playoff victory. Their overall top scorer in qualification was Ayob El Kaabi, though, with five goals, while Sofian Boufal was their leading goal getter at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

In short, they carry a decent goal threat from a variety of sources when facing their continental peers. Will it be enough here, though? The bookmakers don’t think so.

Canada

Canada’s journey to the World Cup has been remarkable. In CONCACAF qualification, they had to navigate a group stage and playoff before they could reach the final stage with the likes of the United States and Mexico.

Despite being such underdogs, John Herdman’s side then topped the final group stage. Doing so got them to the World Cup for the first time since 1986 and only second time ever. They are outsiders in Qatar, too, but can they pull off a shock and reach the Round of 16?

It’s hard to get a read on their recent record, as they have only played teams from CONCACAF in the last couple of years. Canada has never faced Croatia, its one game against Belgium was in 1989, and its last clash with Morocco, in 2016, ended in a 4-0 defeat.

They should do better than that this time, though. In Cyle Larin and Jonathan David, they have the top and second-best (tied) goal scorers from the final stage of qualification. Midfielder Stephen Eustaquio was voted in to the Best XI from qualifying, and Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies offers a consistent threat from left-back.

World Cup Group F Favorites

Belgium is the odds-on favorite to top this group. At -200, only four teams in other sections have shorter odds. However, this is not to say it’s not worth betting on them, even if you won’t get rich doing so. They have the biggest gap over the second-best team that any team from Pot 1 will enjoy at this World Cup. As such, they look like a very solid bet to be group winners.

As second favorites go, Croatia is quite well-regarded too. At +275, they have roughly a one-in-four probability of topping Group F. With their match against Belgium their last in the group, the teams could be facing off to determine who wins the group. In that scenario, they will fancy their chances.

Morocco and Canada are very longshots to top this section, at +900 and +1100, respectively. While the thought of one of them having a good tournament and usurping (presumably) Croatia to qualify seems plausible, outdoing Belgium to finish first is not. Neither has the pedigree to be better than both European teams in this group.

Teams That Advance From World Cup Group F

The top two in this section will be paired with the qualifiers from Group E. If that goes to form, then there will be precious little advantage in facing the second-placed team rather than the winners.

Spain is the top seed in the corresponding group with Germany behind them. It's likely that there will be a pair of tasty looking all-European ties emerging from this quarter of the draw. The odds imply it will be Spain vs. Croatia on Dec. 5, with Belgium vs. Germany the following day.

World Cup Group F FAQ

What are the World Cup groups?

Group A: Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador, Qatar

Group B: England, USA, Wales, Iran

Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Group D: France, Denmark, Australia, Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica

Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada

Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Uruguay, Ghana, Korea Republic

How many teams will there be in Qatar in 2022?

There are eight groups of four countries, giving us a total of 32 teams. This will be the last edition with this format, as the 2026 finals – which are going to be held in Canada, Mexico, and the United States – will have an additional 16 nations taking part.

Who are the dark horses at the World Cup?

Fans love it when an unexpected team has a good run at the World Cup. Four years ago, Croatia made it through to the final, but their odds of +1600 for a repeat suggests they will not do as well at this edition.

A better option for the Qatar World Cup is the Netherlands. They are +500 to reach the final and +1200 to go all the way. The Dutch are in the easiest group, so they may be able to rest players in the third game. Also, a Round of 16 match against USA or Wales isn’t too daunting. Netherlands may need a little luck beyond there, but they are strong at both ends of the field and have reached three finals in the past.

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